Education by Society

“We don’t need no education” ~ Pink Floyd

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Education (n): the process of acquiring knowledge and understanding


How much is it up to society to educate children? Is it merely for the parents or the teachers? Or do we all, as members of society, have a part to play?

If you don’t have children, if yours are grown up & now perhaps have children of their own, or if you are just out without your children for a space of time, how much do you consider your behaviour in terms of those children around you and what example you might be setting?

Recently I was crossing the road at a pelican crossing. On the same side of the road was a guy on his own and a woman with a small child. There was very little traffic and when said guy & I  both saw the road was clear we started to cross. From behind me I heard the woman do the most enormous sigh and tut. The lights had changed by the time I got to the other side and that’s when she started to cross, small child held hand in hand.

Now, I don’t know if she explained the rules as regards crossing the road to this child, Green Cross Code as it is known to many of us, because I carried on walking. But I carried on walking feeling vaguely guilty. Were those few extra seconds really so important? I’m fairly sure I still waited a few minutes for a tube. Perhaps I could have waited and helped set a good crossing-the-road example? On the other hand, I could see it was clear, I was safe, why should it be up to me to wait to help to educate another?

Conversely, I worry when I see parents with small children not crossing the road in the right places or at the right times. ‘How will these children learn safety if you don’t demonstrate and explain it to them’ I fret inside my head, which I think makes me a terrible hypocrite.

It’s not just about crossing roads, of course. I don’t like people who drop litter but I daren’t correct their behaviour, unlike some. I have a colleague who is pained when she hears children swear yet has realised she lets fly foul-mouthed tirades about other drivers while her granddaughter is in the car. But how can we expect children to learn the examples we think they should have if we don’t set them? Is it ok to live life setting the example of do as I say not as I do?

Personally, if someone is at a crossing with a small child I now wait for the green man. Maybe it’s because I care or maybe it’s because I can still hear that ‘tut’ in my head.

Interested in your thoughts, as always. Drop me a line on a comment box-shaped postcard.



4 thoughts on “Education by Society

  1. I nodded and smiled throughout reading this. I do try and take into account people trying to teach road safety to others, and stop to demonstrate similar good practice – because I too have heard the tut, and felt accordingly bad that I had maybe muddied the waters.*

    When I worked in a printer’s we ran a copying service and people frequently brought children in. It did my nerves no good. I’m risk averse, when it comes to the physical “you might chop your fingers off” element, if I’m honest. So I would cringe as people let their kids poke a finger into large electrical equipment, and clench my teeth if they didn’t stop them from laying, invisible, in front of the very heavy door. Neither so bad of course, as the fateful and terrifying words: “Behave, or the lady will tell you off!”

    I do try and moderate my language and behaviour in front of children. More than once I’ve waited for the right moment at the crossing only for the person opposite to just haul an oblivious child across before me. I guess it’s about setting the example I want to set, regardless (good manners and road sense, of course – I’m not *all* about the hair and the bats).

    * This might also have something to do with being run over, aged 15. My nephew, then three, told *everyone* how “Auntie Sarah got run over because she ran out in front of a car!”.

  2. My eldest son once shamed a policeman for crossing the road when the red man was still lit. He yelled at the top of his voice ‘your not allowed to cross yet, wait for the green man’. The policeman continued to cross, but he looked very shame faced. I am all for setting a good example when im out in public as children do take their cues from what they see in society.

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